CHS runners hope to peak at state meet

Camas High School runner Luc Utheza said he feels good and is ready to return to action for a run at the state cross country title. Utheza has missed several with a strained calf muscle.

The Camas High School cross country coaching staff analyzes Luc Utheza's strained calf during a recent practice session. The Papermakers' top runner plans to return to action in time for the postseason.

Camas High School runner Halle Jenkins (center) goes over the Papermakers' racing accomplishments with sophomore Catelyn Flolo (right) during a recent practice session. (Wayne Havrelly/Post-Record)

Camas High School runner Sam Geiger finished third out of nearly 400 runners in the Nike Hole in the Wall race in Arlington, Washington, on Oct. 12. (Photos by Wayne Havrelly/Post-Record)

Camas High School runner Sam Geiger warms up during a practice session Monday, Oct. 14. (Wayne Havrelly/Post-Record)

Camas High School cross country coach Laurie Porter (left) and assistant coaches Andrew Kaler (center) and Matt LaGrande talk strategy as the Papermakers' boys and girls teams prepare for postseason action. (Wayne Havrelly/Post-Record)

After a bit of a slow start to the cross country season, Camas High School (CHS) junior Sam Geiger turned it around at the Nike Hole in the Wall race, held at Lakewood High School in Arlington, Washington, on Saturday, Oct. 12.

Out of 380 of the top high school runners in the region, Geiger finished third, blistering a new personal best 5,000-kilometer time of 15 minutes, 15 seconds.

“I had an awesome race,” he said. “It was crazy. With nearly 400 runners on the starting line, you make sure to get out super fast because you don’t want to go out too slow and get caught behind everyone.”

The entire CHS boys team rose to the challenge, finishing third out of 52 schools. Evan Jenkins finished sixth and Spencer Twyman finished 13th.

Papermakers coach Laurie Porter was pleased with the performance, especially considering the fact that CHS’ top runner, Luc Utheza, missed the race because of a minor calf injury.

“Sam really stepped up, and I had a feeling it was going to happen because his workouts have been good,” Porter said. “Now we just need to get Luc back.”

Utheza said that he’ll sit out a few races to make sure he’s ready for the 4A state meet in November.

“I’m trying to win state this year,” said Utheza, who is training in pools and on bikes to keep his fitness level up while recovering from his injury.

Geiger also has his eyes set on winning the top prize. He gives credit to CHS graduate Daniel Maton, now a runner for the University of Washington, for helping him to learn how to peak at the right time.

“Daniel passed so much good advice to me,” Geiger said. “(He told me) you should never get very upset with yourself if a workout or race doesn’t go the way you think it should. You need to build your confidence in workouts, and I’m starting to get confidence right now, and that really helps.”

Utheza said the competition from Geiger is a big motivator.

“It’s nice,” he said. “It will push me for sure. We are both going to do even better in the future.”

District, state meets fast approaching

After a successful regular season for the Papermakers boys and girls teams, the 4A District 4 meet will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 23, at Lewisville Park in Battle Ground.

CHS senior Halle Jenkins is currently ranked No. 2 among the state’s 4A girls runners and looks forward to competing at the Lewisville Park.

“I like the course,” she said. “There’s a big hill, and you just use it to your advantage, and I like the downhills.”

Sophomore Catelyn Flolo has really improved this season and is now running in the No. 2 position while senior Aspen Ashcroft works to recover from nagging injuries.

“I was really surprised this year,” Flolo said. “I beat my PR (personal record) by a lot, and I really like being on this team.”

Porter is not ruling out the possibility of her boys and girls teams winning state titles, but acknowledges that a lot is riding on everyone being healthy.

“If we have Aspen and Luc back healthy and strong and running well, we can win state,” Porter said with her fingers crossed, hoping not to jinx anything as the entire CHS team focuses on peaking in the next few weeks.